To start off my trip with the team, we woke up on Day 3 to visit an NGO called Transform Cambodia.In the tuk-tuk on the way to Transform Cambodia with the Smiths - Jim, Karla, Katherine, and the twins Jamie and Joanna!
Transform Cambodia works to transform the country through education. There are 11 Transform Cambodia Centres, and at least 3 more coming up soon in different districts. In every centre, there are around 100 children enrolled, who otherwise would have no means of getting any education at all. But no child could ever concentrate on learning, even if it were free, if they were still going without food right? Transform Cambodia not only pays all their fees and costs of going to school, they also distribute meals and nutritional supplements when the kids are at the centre, and compensate the family with food, because the kids are unable to work and help the family.There are 10 staff members in each centre, and they are all Khmer nationals, although the founders are actually from a church in Australia. The classes are taught in English, to help the children have a better opportunity with international companies and sectors when they come out to work. So how does Transform Cambodia sustain itself? Well, sponsors are appointed for each child, and these sponsors help finance the operation, and encourage the children through letters and email. the unique part of this foundation, however, is that ALL the money given goes directly to the children and their needs, and not a cent is taken for any kind of administrative fees etc.
It was really heartbreaking to actually get to the centre, as it really is in one of the poorest parts of Phnom Penh. We were passing by dirt roads, stalls selling meat on the roadside, covered in flies, street kids running around without clothes on.. =( The amount of help the country needs is tremendous, and Transform Cambodia is helping from the root.
Ready for a short tour? =)The classrooms are spacious, bright and cool, and each one has a bathroom attached. There were about 4 classrooms if I'm not mistaken, and the whole ground floor is used for prayers, and meals. There's a kitchen where the staff cook all the meals, and also an office there too.
All the class rooms and hallways had pretty pictures on the walls, like these! Kat likes Kittys.. ;pCute right? =DA few of the kids who came out to bid us adieu!
To balance up our emotions, we set out for a hearty lunch at a restaurant called Bopha Phnom Penh at Sisowath Quay, right on the bank of the Mekong river. The Mekong river is the 10th longest in the world, and runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It was a really nice restaurant, and it was also a 'farewell' lunch, as The Smiths (minus Kat, as she was staying on to heal the world with her MA in Human Rights for another 6 weeks!) were leaving for Malaysia straight after.The food was amazing! Kat and I especially loved this beef rendang-y thing.. *sighs happily* Wish I knew what is was called!!!! Lol.. We didnt, on the other hand, like this beef loclac.. =/ I think it tasted and felt a bit too raw for my liking, even tho it wasnt..After sending my adopted family off (yes, I adopted myself as a Smith long ago, questions? ;p), I checked into the hotel that the team has been staying at, the Royal Palace. It was really comfy! And cheap too! My kinda place! Lol.. (Value for money, ka-ching! ;p) Then the boys wanted to check out the Adidas store, so off we went in 2 tuk-tuks, and promptly got caught in a sudden heavy downpour practically as soon as we stepped out of the store. Lol. Sheltering in a gas station, Daryl taught us this game called "Bom Chi Chi", or "Tongka Tongka", whichever you fancy. This turned out to be a game that confused us all, and was deemed unfit for the dorm visits we were going on that night. Hahaha! (Sorry, the excitement on Daryl's face every time he went "Tongka Tongka Tongka!!" was just hilarious.. ;p)
Anyhoo. As I just mentioned, we went on dorm visits that night. Now, I dont know whether or not I have my facts mixed up, but these dorms are provided by the New Life Foundation to about 40 men who come from different provinces, but work in Phnom Penh. They cant travel back and forth each day, so they stay in these dorms for free, and in return help out at the Foundation. The "car park" of the dorm also doubles up as a "classroom" for those who want night classes for English. This is where we dropped in to pay a visit and get to know some of the Cambodians. =)
We waited until their class ended, then got to know each other through a couple of games which left us all in stitches! Then we split into groups of guys and gals, and got to talk to each other a little more. There werent many girls, I think there was only about 8 of us, so after we had talked for a while, we got some of the snacks and drinks that we brought ready to pass around.It was like a big party! So much fun! And it was really great to just talk to them all, and learn more about their lives, hardships, and dreams. They're such a friendly group of people! And for me, it was also a time to get better acquainted with the team. Talk about a time for bonding! =)Ahaha!! Pastor Sothea's face!! ;p
By the time we left the dorm and went on our way to dinner, I felt I knew them a lot better than I had before! Which made dinner a much enjoyed experience. We went to a riverbank-view restaurant called Camory, which served a lot of western food. Unfortunately, Jeannie couldnt join us as she had to be up early the next morning for her medical mission (did I mention Jeannie's a doctor? Hmm.. I think I did, but anyway, she worked mostly with another team, all medical experts.. =)), but we filled ourselves up with all the yummy food.. Ngom ngom ngom.. Then it was off to bed for us as well, as we had a busy day ahead!